How Do I React?

How Do I React

Knowing how to react to child sexual abuse is just as important as understanding the signs. The graphic below helps give some guidance in three different situations when dealing with child sexual abuse: disclosure, discovery, and suspicion.

DISCLOSURE occurs when a child tells you that they have experienced abuse.

DISCOVERY is witnessing a sexually abusive act against a child by an adult or another youth. It also includes finding child pornography.

SUSPICION occurs when you see someone testing limits or crossing a child’s physical boundaries and creating a situation that makes the child vulnerable.

State laws require that you have reasonable suspicion that abuse is occurring. That means you do not need proof of sexual abuse to make a good faith report to authorities.

Reasonable suspicion means you have witnessed physical or behavioral signs of maltreatment, either in the child or parent/caregiver, or both. OR, you have received a disclosure from a child about abuse, neglect, or boundary violations towards them.

WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED TO MAKE A REPORT?

Necessary Information

  • Child’s name, address, and age
  • Parent’s name and address
  • Nature of the abuse

Helpful Information

  • Perpetrator’s name
  • Details of the abuse

*If the child does not readily supply this information, do not continue to question or investigate. It could interfere later with the investigation.

If you are currently unsure of how to react to your suspicion, a disclosure made to you, or a discovery, call 1-866-FOR-LIGHT.

Read more about reporting child sexual abuse, including information about state laws, what to say, and additional FAQs here.

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